A fun day at the zoo for a group of visitors to Jamaica turned into a horrific ordeal when they ended up witnessing a lion go rogue on a person who appeared to be a zookeeper. A video of the incident, which has since gone viral, has been the subject of criticism on social media, with many questioning the treatment of animals at the facility.
The video shows an African lion roaring in its enclosure as the man continues to tease the wild cat by putting his hands through the iron mesh to pet or tickle it. The animal, which appears upset, is heard roaring in protest and even trying to hold the man’s finger as visitors record the event on their mobile phones.
Quickly, things go awry as the beast manages to bite off the man’s finger. As the man screams and is seen using all his might to get the animal to let go of its hand, the lion refuses to do so. After struggling for a bit, the lion eventually lets go and the man falls to the ground.
[Disclaimer: Disturbing visual, viewers’ discretion is advised]
Watch the moment here:
According to jamaicaobserver.com, the incident happened at Jamaica Zoo on Friday and the man’s finger was severed by a lion at the St Elizabeth-based attraction. The incident happened in the late afternoon and was watched by more than 15 guests.
One of the visitors who witnessed the incident said it happened as the zoo tour was coming to an end when the man, in an apparent effort to impress visitors, tried to pet the lion. However, this only irritated the wild animal.
“When it happened, I thought it was a joke. I didn’t think it was serious. I didn’t realize the seriousness of it, because it’s their job to put on a show,” she said, adding that everyone started panicking after she fell to the ground.
While the short clip was widely shared, many criticized the man for being irresponsible and reckless. Others called his actions “idiotic” and said “he got what he deserved”.
As the criticism grew louder, the zoo released a statement with its management assuring everyone that the zoo is a safe place for everyone. They explained that the man in the video was a “contractor” and clarified that the clip does not represent safety procedures and policies that must be followed at all times at the facility.
Calling the incident “tragic”, the zoo said it is “doing everything to help the gentleman move forward”.